A 9-year-old girl disappeared in the Schuylkill last night in a remote part of Southwest Philadelphia after a friend playfully pushed her into the water, not knowing she couldn't swim, police said.

After realizing that the girl was in trouble, her friends had to run two miles to the nearest highway before they were able to flag down police, said Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives.

The Marine Unit as well as boats from the Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard were searching the Schuylkill late last night for the girl, who disappeared around 7:30 p.m., Walker said.

The children - eight in total, all Liberian immigrants ages 9 to 14 - were at a boat ramp near the Hess refinery when one of the boys pushed the girl into the river, Walker said.

The girl screamed that she could not swim, and another girl who was cooling off in the water by hanging from the boat ramp grabbed hold of her briefly, but lost her, Walker said. Another girl then jumped into the water and was also able to briefly get hold of the girl, he said, but to no avail.

"She floats out into the center of the river" and disappeared, Walker said.

Walker said the children all knew one another and came from the same neighborhood.

"With the weather conditions the way they are, it's been a difficult search," Walker said, referring to the thunderstorm that swept through the region last night.